Unsurprisingly the Well House Inn is named after St Margarets Well, which stands proudly in its garden. It is mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The villagers, from long gone times, paid homage to their source of water, by referring to the local area as Magswell, which eventually evolved into Mugswell and so the village was born.
It is thought that there was a tunnel linking the well to the caves under Reigate. The Well House Inn has, in consequence, a resident ghost, known as Harry the Monk. Back in the 1500s, Harry, by all accounts, was trying to escape Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and so doing, came to a sticky end. Over the years there has been many a tale of unexplained goings on, relayed by various residents of the pub.
The well remains a unique and interesting feature of this historic public house. It is still put to good use. It is 42 meters deep and the Environmental agency constantly monitor the level of water. They tell us it is the main monitoring site for the whole of the South of London and the South-East of England!
In the 1800s Chipstead was mostly farmland and so the locals largely chose to reside in the more sheltered area of Mugswell to the south. The Track Way ran from Burgh Heath, through Kingswood and Mugswell, crossing the Pilgrims Way at Reigate Hill. This provided some employment and trade for the villagers and was the sad route taken by those on their way to the workhouse at Earlswood.
The Track Way, now a footpath, ran directly past the well and climbed to the top of Mags Hill to join the Street. There one could find, the 8 May cottages, a windmill, a bakers shop and the village’s original ale house at Juniper cottage. Much later, a flying bomb hit the street in the summer of 1944, flattening the cottages, which were subsequently rebuilt. Fortunately, there were no fatalities.
1899 heralded the arrival of the railway in Chipstead and the start of the change in the general area. At this time the Well House at Hogden Bottom, was in fact a row of three cottages, believed to date back to the 1560’s. The turn off the century saw their first change of use to a teahouse. In fact it was no until the 1950’s that the Well House was transformed, with some flair, into a public house by Bass Charrington.
Since then it has passed into private ownership and continues to offer hospitality to the residents of Mugswell and Chipstead as well as visitors who come, many a mile by foot and by road to enjoy this truly unique country pub.